Plant Information Fact Sheet No. 9
Even with a normal amount of rainfall this spring, it is certain our water supply will be limited by drought restrictions. These restrictions can be severely limiting to the home gardener. As we go to press, a Stage 1 Drought Emergency has been declared for all of New York City, Westchester, Putnam, Ulster and Orange counties and New Jersey has declared a drought emergency.
Requirements for Success
GENERAL SUGGESTIONS: Water conservation in the landscape is one way to help our natural resources last. Don’t wait for restrictions on outdoor water use, or worse yet, an outright ban. You can begin now to assess and improve your garden so that it becomes far more "water-thrifty".
SITE INVENTORY AND ANALYSIS: To conduct a site inventory and analysis with water conservation in mind, determine what plants have a high water demand. Learn the prevailing wind directions, patterns of sun and shade, existing topography and soil type on a site in order to improve growing conditions. Assess the condition and placement of your plants; do they conform to the principles of water use zones as outlined below? Note existing large expanses of lawn and ways to minimize these areas to some extent if possible
CREATE WATER-USE ZONES: A well designed water-conserving landscape organizes the landscape into water use zones. Plants are re-arranged into three water use zones; high, moderate and low. Group water- demanding plants together close to the water source if they are spread out through the garden. The high use zone should comprise the smallest area, such as a planting near the front of the home, where ornamentals are easily visible and near the water source. The largest numbers of plantings should be in the low water use zone, where established plants need no supplemental irrigation. Drought tolerant turf grasses, woody ornamentals and native or naturalized plants fit into this category. Moderate use zones would include plants that need to be watered as they show signs of drought stress.
LANDSCAPE TO CONSERVE ENERGY: Environmentally sound landscape techniques include planting for energy conservation and microclimate improvement. For example, a house with southern exposure will benefit from the strategic placement of deciduous shade trees along the southwest corner, to lower the amount of heat and glare received on summer afternoons. Existing microclimates may be utilized to establish particular types of plantings; a garden in the shade is almost 20 degrees cooler than one in the sun. An area that receives sun only in the early morning will tend to dry out less, as the overall transpiration losses will be lower.
WATER HARVESTING: Saving rainwater is a simple, water-wise idea. Connect downspouts from roof gutters to a plastic rain barrel equipped with a tap to save every precious drop of rainfall. The rain barrel will come with a top filtering screen to keep out leaves, twigs and very importantly, mosquito larvae, which breed in standing water. Try to utilize this water as soon as possible to avoid larval breeding. To easily water your garden, attach a hand-held hose with shut-off nozzle to the barrel’s tap.
WATER EFFICIENT IRRIGATION: Traditional sprinklers require high water pressure and waste almost 25-30% water due to evaporation and wind effect. Most existing water wasteful systems can be refitted with low-flow components to deliver water precisely where it is needed--- to the root area. With systems such as point/source drip, micro irrigation, drip line, and soaker hose, less water is wasted, uptake of nutrients and moisture is maximized and soilborne diseases can be reduced, as leaf surfaces are kept dry.
WATER-WISE HORTICULTURAL TECHNIQUES:
SHRUBS WITH LOW TO MODERATE WATER REQUIREMENTS
PERENNIALS AND HERBS
ANNUALS AND TENDER TROPICALS
Indicates Native Plant*